Living in a world tense with fear of the unknown causes you to take inventory of the things and people that are most important. Beyond that, it forces you to make choices about life, what you want, and who you want, where previously, those decisions might have been unclear.
Enduring a pandemic and now reaching the holiday season is a perfect time to restore broken relationships by ‘checking in’ on each other, but here’s something to remember…
This holiday season still isn’t the time to accept people’s toxic behaviour.
Pandemic holiday check-in texts don’t replace behavior change or that feeling in your gut that says something isn’t right. I used to find myself making excuses for people’s roller-coaster emotions and busy lives. Then I stopped.
Honestly, I got tired of being understanding. I wanted to spend time with people who showed up for me, people who were present, even people who weren’t present because they were “going through something” — and that’s okay, but at least I’m not left guessing why.
I want to spend time with people who don’t confuse intimacy with neediness. You’re in my life by choice, not a necessity.
The relationships that matter to you are the ones you make time for, even through the ups and downs of life. People who care for you will listen to your wants and decide if they are willing to accommodate your request. Sometimes they can’t, not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t see beyond their own thinking.
They genuinely believe they give you what you’ve asked for, but what they’re giving you is their interpretation of what you’ve asked for. Don’t just ask for what you want. Say exactly how you want it. Sometimes we can’t hear people. It takes fine-tuning to pick up on the undercurrents of the things not being said.
The holiday season still isn’t the time to allow people to project their fears and worries onto you.
It’s one thing to listen to the concerns of others and share your fears. It’s another to allow the collective thoughts of the world to drag you into negativity. You’re allowed to pull back and protect your space. You’re allowed to shut off the media. You’re allowed to unplug.
This is the time to know the difference between people who truly value you and those who value your ability to be manipulated.
This still isn’t the time, nor will it ever be the time, to let people use you as a punching bag, sounding board, or emotional dumping ground for their refusal to do the actual self-work.
This still isn’t the time to quiet your innate intuition because Santa Claus is in town. You know what’s right for you — you know what’s not.
The relationships you’ve consciously decided to distance yourself from are still the same. They won’t produce different results unless behavior change or mutual effort is made.
Ending a relationship doesn’t mean that you didn’t care. It usually means that you wanted something different for your life and you’ve taken responsibility for it. We are all still responsible for managing our feelings. We are all still accountable for our happiness. We are responsible for all aspects of our life, even if circumstances are out of our control.
In her book Women Who Run With The Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about the instinctive nature of women.
“The cure for the naive woman and the instinct-injured woman is the same: Practice listening to your intuition, your inner voice; ask questions; be curious; see what you see; hear what you hear, and then act on what you know to be true…by retrieving these powers from the shadows of our psyches, we shall not be victims of internal or external circumstances.”
The holiday season still isn’t the time to romanticize suffering.
Your life isn’t a complete failure. Things weren’t better with the love you lost. You’re romanticizing because of warm emotions, hot chocolate, and candy canes. Enduring damage to your self-worth is not better than where you are now. Having your growth and freedom stifled is not better than where you are now. Being shown minimal effort is not better than where you are now. I promise you.
I know it feels like anything is better than where you are. You beat yourself up for holding on to memories. But you can go through a terrible breakup, care about your partner, yet not let them back into your life.
It’s time to process your emotions by asking, “What do the things I love about (insert person’s name here) say about me and what I want?” Alternatively, “What do the things I hate about (insert person’s name here) say about me and what I don’t want?”
Be honest here. It’s a slow road to healing when you hide your truth. You can appreciate the space you’re in while remembering the people and experiences that brought you there. You don’t have to choose.
One day, you’ll find that your gaze looks more ahead and a lot less backward. Feel the ache of trying to let go of the person, things, or life you still love. That’s allowed. Those memories aren’t going to hurt you. They may singe, they may break you slowly apart, but they aren’t going to really hurt you. They hurt your feelings. And though it’s agonizing, there’s a difference. You, as a whole person, are still standing.
This still isn’t the time to accept people’s toxic behavior. But maybe it will be just enough to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to understand what we really want.